HC Deb 22 July 1971 vol 821 cc347-8W
Mr. Charles Morrison

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the outcome of discussions with the Chairman-designate of the new Sports Council about the implementation of the Government's decision to phase out, in general, grants to local clubs for purely local facilities.

Mr. Eldon Griffiths

The Government's policy is that the Sports Council should concentrate its grant-making activities on assistance towards national sports organisations, national and regional facilities and multi-purpose schemes to serve larger than local areas. Additionally, the Sports Council will be able to grant-aid specialist facilities, including those for the disabled, and multi-purpose projects where pump-priming would enable local clubs, local authorities and private enterprise to co-operate in providing facilities giving better overall value for money than piecemeal efforts. The Sports Council will also consider grants for projects of purely local significance where special circumstances make this appropriate ; but it is for the Sports Council itself to determine its own criteria for making such exceptions within the Government's general policy that projects of purely local significance should normally be financed locally rather than nationally.

Discussions with the Chairman-designate took into account that these areas of the Sports Council's work will take time to build up, as will adequate participation of local sources in the financing of local clubs. The following arrangements for the transition period have therefore been agreed :

1. When the new Council meets this autumn, it will consider what share of its first year's budget to make available for grants towards the cost of local capital projects ; that is, grants broadly of the kind hitherto made by the Department to local clubs.

2. Within these limits, a further round of grant making will begin, on behalf of the new Council, in anticipation of its assumption of full executive responsibility, the target date for which is the beginning of the financial year 1972–73. This new round will be based, according to the established practice, on advice obtained from the regional sports councils.

3. Applications now in the pipeline will first be so dealt with (meanwhile, the processing of cases on which commitments have already been made by the Department will, of course, proceed). Later, the same process will be applied to submissions which clubs will be able to send in during the coming months ; but the phasing-out will continue and it must be envisaged that the provision for grants to local clubs will progressively decline until they are the exception to the general rule.